The debonding and fracture of Si particles during the fatigue of a cast Al-Si alloy
Constant-amplitude high-cycle fatigue tests (σmax = 133 MPa, σmax/σy = 0.55, and R = 0.1) were conducted on cylindrical samples machined from a cast A356-T6 aluminum plate: The fracture surface of the sample with the smallest fatigue-crack nucleating defect was examined using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). For low crack-tip driving forces (fatigue-crack growth rates of da/dN < 1 × 10-7 m/cycle), we discovered that a small semicircular surface fatigue crack propagated primarily through the Al-1 pct Si dendrite cells. The silicon particles in the eutectic remained intact and served as barriers at low fatigue-crack propagation rates. When the semicircular fatigue crack inevitably crossed the three-dimensional Al-Si eutectic network, it propagated primarily along the interface between the silicon particles and the Al-1 pct Si matrix. Furthermore, nearly all of the silicon particles were progressively debonded by the fatigue cracks propagating at low rates, with the exception of elongated particles with a major axis perpendicular to the crack plane, which were fractured. As the fatigue crack grew with a high crack-tip driving force (fatigue-crack growth rates of da/dN > 1 × 10-6 m/cycle), silicon particles ahead of the crack tip were fractured, and the crack subsequently propagated through the weakest distribution of prefractured particles in the Al-Si eutectic. Only small rounded silicon particles were observed to debond while the fatigue crack grew at high rates. Using fracture-surface markings and fracture mechanics, a macroscopic measure of the maximum critical driving force between particle debonding vs fracture during fatigue-crack growth was calculated to be approximately Kmaxtr ≈ 6.0 MPa√m for the present cast A356 alloy.
Gall, K; Yang, N; Horstemeyer, M; McDowell, DL; Fan, J
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